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AN EXAMINATION ON THE IMPACT OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION ON WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS IN KENYA

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AN EXAMINATION ON THE IMPACT OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION ON WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS IN KENYA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Women's participation in politics is a critical aspect of democratic representation and societal progress. Although women make up more than half of the global population, they consistently face under representation in politics when compared to men. In Kenya, the political scene is characterized by its dynamic and ever-changing nature, enriched by a significant historical backdrop. The country operates as a multiparty democracy with a highly competitive political environment. According to Bradton (2018), Kenya's political landscape made the transition from a single-party state to a multiparty system during the early 1990s. Nevertheless, it's important to note that Kenya's constitution includes a provision known as the "two-thirds gender rule," which stipulates that no more than two-thirds of elected or appointed positions can be occupied by one gender, as highlighted by Conway (2019).

Conceptually, the term politics is refers to the activities, actions, and processes involved in the governance of a society or a state. It encompasses the theory and practice of government, the distribution of power, the decision-making processes, and the implementation of policies and laws that affect a community, nation, or even the international arena. Adelekan (2019) defined political participation as the process by which individuals engage in the political life of their society, with the opportunity to contribute to decisions about society's common goals and the most effective means of achieving them. Also, Akamare (2021),defined political participation is a facet of political behavior that focuses on how individuals take part in politics. It's a voluntary activity that can take both direct and indirect forms. The primary purpose of political participation, in any society, be it advanced or primitive, is to pursue power, gain influence, and affect decision-making. It serves as a means for individuals to contribute to the political system and the overall development of the nation, and it's a fundamental requirement for democratic governance (Awolowo and Aluko, 2010).

The degree of people's involvement in the political system varies from one person to another. Falade (2008) categorized political participants into six types:

The Inactive: Individuals who do not engage in any political activities.

Voting Specialists: People who are enthusiastic about voting but are not involved in other political activities.

Parochial Participants: Those who engage in politics sporadically, participating only when it directly affects their personal interests.

Communalists: Individuals who regularly vote and are involved in community matters but do not partake in political campaign activities.

The Campaigners: Actively involved in political campaigns but not engaged in other community affairs. Complete Activists: Highly engaged in all aspects of political activities, including voting, political campaigns, community engagement, and interaction with public officials.

Several factors influence political participation, including the cultural, economic, political, religious, and educational backgrounds of individuals. However, the level of political awareness and the extent of confidence in the political process also play a significant role in determining the extent of citizens' involvement in the political system (Falade, 2018).

Additionally, in order to promote gender equity and diversity in politics, Kenya put in place affirmative action policies, which includes the Women's Representative seats in Parliament, thereby increasing female participation in politics. Beyond that, the Kenyan political landscape has significantly been shaped by women since colonial times. This is due to the fact that the country is being predominantly patriarchal, and the deep-rooted resistance towards women’s inclusion in politics (Kassa, 2015; Nzomo, 2015; Musila, 2016). Also, during the colonial era, the country struggled for independence, women steered peaceful protests that put their lives risked and took part in the talks that led to the country’s independence (Kamau, 2017).

Further more, colonial and post-colonial governments recognized the power women held and utilized them for their political gains. Nyokabi Kamau (2015) and Wanjiku Kabira (2017) note that in the 1950s the British government formed the “Maendeleo ya Wanawake” (national women’s development organization) which was later controlled by the then government party, to marshal the women countrywide for state support. Although, the women's organization focused on enhancing the economic empowerment of women through capacity-building initiatives. However, it did not extend its efforts towards encouraging women to engage in active political roles. The prevailing patriarchal culture contributed to the perception that political participation was exclusively reserved for men.

Additionally, in 1991 when multi-partyism commenced, the 1992 National Women’s Convention was held, which became a landmark in promotion of women participation in politics. Women were able to organize themselves and fight for the expansion of democratic space in politics (Kabira & Kimani, 2017). Also, several women legislators made efforts to contribute towards the gender principle. For example, Hon. Phoebe Asiyo, in 1997 sponsored the first affirmative action motion that recommended parties’ proposals of women who would compete for elective.

Women’s ability to participate politics is also shaped by societal norms and gender expectations. Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to assess women participation in politics in Kenya.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Discrimination against women has been noted to be widespread due to patriarchal arrangements, where the husband is the head of the household and women often have little influence in decisions affecting their lives. This has been so, despite the fact that women form a majority of the population in Kenya (51.2%) and play an active role in the development of the society.Women continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in many aspects of their lives, a situation which for a long time was attributed to the existing laws and policies as well as the socio-cultural factors that forms the heart of democracy in Kenya.

Additionally, women political participation can be traced back from pre-colonial times and the trend has changed over time. Women’s Rights Organizations formed as early as 1952 have lobbied for the rights of women and created empowerment programs that would ensure involvement of women in politics and political party nomination. However, political parties on the other hand have not involved women equally in their party nominations nor given them equal leadership opportunities as their male counterparts. In Kenya, while notable strides have been made in promoting gender equity and inclusion in the political sphere, significant challenges persist, hindering women's full and effective participation.

Further more, women in Kenya are faced with substantial obstacles when seeking elective office. These challenges and obstacles include patriarchal attitudes, cultural norms, economic disparities, and a lack of access to political networks and resources. However, these challenges discourage women from pursuing political careers. Hence, it is in the light of these that the study seeks to examine the impact of gender discrimination on women participation in politics in Kenya.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the impact of gender discrimination on women participation in politics in Kenya.

Specifically, the study will;

  1. Identify level of women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya.

  2. Find out the disadvantages associated with the women failure in political participation in Kakamega, Kenya.

  3. Investigate the reason for women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya.

  4. Find out the extent gender inequality affects women participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What is the extent of women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya?

  2. What are the disadvantages associated with the women failure in political participation in Kakamega, Kenya?

  3. What are the factors driving women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya?

  4. To what extent does gender inequality affects women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya?

1.5 Significant of the Study

An examination of the impact of gender discrimination on women participation in politics in Kenya will be revealed to the government at various level, politicians, electoral bodies,Women’s Rights Organizations, women in Kakamega, political parties and media houses. In addition, the study will help to the Women’s Rights Organizations in understanding the available strategies to enhance women’s participation in political leadership, challenges that are constraining their ease to access political space, constructivism thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and biased ideals that face women’s participation in political leadership in Kenya.Also, the findings will be revealed to political candidates and activists to communicate information regarding their agendas, policies, campaign activities, and accomplishments. Further more, to the media houses, it will serve as a means to raise awareness and promote gender equality.

Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regards to an assessment of women participation in politics in Kenya.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on an assessment of women participation in politics in Kenya. Theoretically, this study will identify level of women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya and find out the disadvantages associated with the women failure in political participation, investigate the reason for women's participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya and find out the extent gender inequality affects women participation in politics in Kakamega, Kenya.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to women in Kakamega, Kenya

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Politics: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

Participation: refers to the act of taking part or engaging in a given activity either in the social, economic or political spheres of life.

Political participation: means to engaging in political activities or actions particularly, women participation in civic education, rallies, conferences and elective campaigns, registration drives or advocacy activities.

Gender:refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviour and roles associated with being a woman.

Discrimination:the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, or gender.


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